This was a week of highs and lows. I spent most of it doing one of three things: Interviewing women who have applied to The Cru (inspiring high); taking action on the separation of families at our southern border (heartbreaking low); and devouring The Carter's "Everything Is Love" album (ethereal high), which they released in surprise Lemonade fashion last Saturday.
I'm a die hard Beyonce fan so it took a little while for me to adjust to Jay Z's equal billing on an album I downloaded in reverence to her highness. But by the time I got to the final "LoveHappy" melody, my thighs were aching from dancing for nearly an hour and I had officially crowned The Carters the greatest love duo of all time.
"Everything Is Love" is a powerful testament to the fact that even though Beyonce has redefined her craft, the heights of her artistry have been achieved in collaboration with her husband— sometimes painfully. I'd always held onto the theory that she truly upgraded him with their marriage, but listening to the tracks, each one progressively pulsing with their dual heartbeats, I get it now. His imprint on the texture of her womanhood has delivered a Beyonce who is more fierce, has more street cred, and has had to dig deeper to define herself. We all benefit through the music.
The album is a lens into the couple's relationship through the prism of social consciousness, and it is a defiant anthem to black love. Listening provoked flashbacks to my college courtship with Kojo, who was an international student from Ghana. We were syrupy idealistic back then, convinced our union represented diasporic Africa coming together to advance our people. The Carters are clear about their responsibility to advance theirs, too, and the album oozes communal mindfulness. In "Boss," Jay Z raps We measure success by how many people successful next to you. The chorus of "Black Effect" loops I'm good on any MLK Boulevard. In other words, we haven't forgotten where we came from and who we're here for.
In my book, Drop the Ball, I wrote that the greatest privilege men in the workplace have had isn't a corporate or public policy—it's a partner at home. I'm thinking Jay Z doesn't do many dishes, but if "Everything Is Love" is any indication of The Carter's all-in partnership, then Queen B will continue to reign with his wind at her sails. What I respected the most about them, and what is most evident from this latest collaboration, is that they are two people who have dropped the ball on being the perfect couple. As Beyonce sings in the chorus to the final song: We're flawed but we're still perfect for each other.
I hope this insight is just as true for the citizens of this nation as it is for The Carters. It might be the only thing that gets us through all of these highs and lows. Marriage is an evolving experiment, and so is democracy.